Does SEO Still Matter?

SEOWe’ve all heard “SEO is Dead” from alarmists, the uninformed, and in countless link bait articles (irony?). But is there any truth to it?

While Search Engine Optimization may look completely different than it did even a year ago, I firmly believe that SEO is not only alive, but thriving. Here’s why:

Some of SEO is Dead

Many tactics that have fallen under the SEO umbrella can safely be considered dead, either because they don’t work anymore, never worked, or still work but are in violation of Google’s guidelines. I’m not going to spend time discussing why they don’t work or are risky, because that’s not what this article is about, and there has been plenty written about the topic.

Essential Q and A on SEO & Content Marketing for Small Businesses

SEO Content Marketing Small BusinessThe idea of making online content that is useful to people as well as easy to find and share applies to any organization whether it’s a B2B software company, a non-profit association or a government organization. There’s so much information being produced and promoted plus a growing array options for consuming content that standing out can be a real challenge.

I recently did a Google+ Hangout with a group of Chamber of Commerce executives from all over the U.S. talking about the role of content in marketing for small businesses. We dug into the fundamentals of what to talk about and how it can create a mutual benefit for SMBs and their customers. We also discussed the notion of empathy for our audiences and how important it is to invest in quality content as well as efforts to make that content easy to find and share.

What Content Marketers Really Need to Know About SEO – A Twitter Chat With @JoePulizzi #CMWorld

Content SEOCompanies large and small are investing in content creation now, more than ever. Whether the investment in content marketing supports branding, sales, customer service, PR or recruiting, there are specific audiences and brand messages involved.

Kudos to companies making the effort to create more useful content to help answer customer questions. But what good is investing in all that content if it’s not easy to find and share?

Search is a direct expression of intent and what better time for your useful content to be available than at your customers’ moment of need? It’s the perfect time of course, so companies pumping out content without amplification are literally throwing money away.

The Truth About Content Marketing & SEO

SEO tunnel visionOver the past few years, there’s been a tremendous focus on content creation in the search and overall digital marketing world. Once you get past the hype, there are plenty of well documented case studies showing the ROI of a content marketing approach.

Unfortunately, content marketing campaigns are often guilty of paying little more than cursory attention to the optimization of digital assets for search. There might be a “keywords” or “SEO” check box on a task list, but it’s not anything that takes full advantage of search based discovery. The content might be engaging and inspire action, but good luck finding it on a search engine.

Why is this? It can be a mix of factors ranging from the ambiguity of SEO cause and effect to prioritizing tactics according to the ability to implement and understand how to measure their impact.

7 Steps to SEO at Scale: How to Ramp Up Your Search Engine Optimization Strategy

Scalable SEO in brands and organizationscomScore reports that in April 2013 there were over 20 billion search queries and of the 13 billion+ handled by Google, 16% of daily searches have never been seen before.  Each of those attempts represents buyers looking for solutions at the moment of need. Online marketers that take advantage of modern, scalable search engine optimization best practices as part of their overall digital marketing mix can gain a significant advantage over competitors to become “the best answer” when it matters most.

Understanding the basics of search engine optimization can be challenging given how often major search engines update and change the rules. However, buyers’ overwhelming use of search to find solutions is too great to ignore its influence on the buying cycle and achieving sales growth goals.

Are Bad Directions Leaving Web Visitors Stranded? Optimize For Outcomes to Improve Experience & Conversions

At some point, most of us have been lost. We know our ultimate destination, but either through a wrong turn or poor directions we find ourselves in the wrong place and likely very frustrated.

Without landing page optimization, your visitors may have this same lost feeling when they arrive on your website. Whether the content was written 10 days or 10 months ago, it’s easy to make assumptions about your website visitors and assume the directions (read: content and calls to action) you are providing make sense.

If anyone has ever given you directions based on landmarks (turn right at the gas station) you can understand this feeling. And ultimately you are unsure and have questions such as: what gas station, what if there is more than 1 and good grief why didn’t you just give me the street name?

5 Online Marketing Essentials for Small Business Marketers

America the Digital

As new businesses are started every day across the U.S., many of those entrepreneurs are grappling with the realities of how to market their ideas, products and services.

Limited resources and an overabundance of options requires filtering and prioritization when it comes to where marketing investments are made, whether it’s content, blogging, social media, or SEO.

Common questions include: What to measure? What if it fails? What should we outsource?

Here are a few answers to those questions that I was asked as prep for an interview:

What advice do you have for business owners or entrepreneurs who are staying out of blogging and/or social because they don’t feel they can produce enough content on a regular basis to keep things interesting?

Online Marketing News: Top CEOs in Social, Facebook to Solve Attribution Problem with Atlas

The Tweets from the Top - CEOs in Social Media

Oprah, Rupert Murdoch Most Influential CEOs in Social Media (or Infographics: This Is How You Do It)

In a brilliant display of content marketing prowess, TopManagementDegrees.com has released a caricature infographic illustrating the 40 CEOs most influential in social media. Oprah tops the list with a Klout score of 92, followed closely by Rupert Murdoch at 91, which just goes to show that social influence is not a popularity contest.

Virgin’s Richard Branson, HDNet’s Mark Cuban, and Jack Dorsey of Square round out the top 5. The top 40 is rife with the usual suspects; tech and marketing CEOs from Twitter, Salesforce, Foursquare, Dell, LinkedIn, etc. One surprising find: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg failed to break the top 50.

Online Marketing News: Google’s Look at the Buying Journey, Brand Marketers Failing at Localization

Google Holiday Infographic Buying Journey

Google Analyzes Consumer Device Preferences: Insight Into Mobile Purchasing Journey

Google has just released a blog post and infographic sharing insights into consumer shopping behavior over the recent 2012 shopping season. In many cases, Google said, consumers discovered a business on one device, for example on their smartphone while in a store, and would then engage further with that business on another device at a later time.

It is critical that companies understand the various entry and touchpoints during their customers’ buying journey, then optimize existing and new content to fulfill needs at each point. Your own data will always be most valuable, though the industry trends companies with access to as much relevant data as Google has can be helpful, as well. For example, they found that smartphones were the preferred device for contacting or navigating to a business with 71% of shoppers using a store locator on their phone, while 82% of shoppers used a larger device like PC or tablet for making online purchases. Is your content, whether written, visual or video, currently optimized for mobile formatting and consumption?

SEO for Ecommerce Websites – Managing the Duplicate Content Beast

Man in 3D GlassesThe rise of ecommerce websites has heralded a new era of convenience for consumers, as well as the most powerful tool for retailers since electricity. However, ecommerce sites bring with them a host of SEO challenges that can quash any hopes of being found in organic search.

Fortunately, with a little foresight and a bit of technical knowledge, ecommerce retailers can maximize their SEO potential and literally rise above the competition (in the search results), resulting in more customers and increased sales.

Duplicate Content

The single biggest SEO challenge for ecommerce sites is duplicate content. While nearly every modern website can be subject to this issue, the characteristics of most ecommerce websites tend to have every attribute that typically results in duplicate content.

Lee Odden’s War of Words: Myth-Busting Social, Content Marketing & SEO at NMX

Lee Odden answers audience questions about content marketing, social media and SEO.Our CEO at TopRank Online Marketing, Lee Odden (@leeodden), shared his War of Words: Myth-Busting Social, Content Marketing and SEO yesterday at NMX Las Vegas.

The premise of Lee’s presentation was actually crowdsourced; the title War of Words comes from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, which was turned into a radio program by Orson Wells and spawned a mass fear that Mars aliens were on their way to take over Earth. There is much misinformation in content marketing, social media and SEO that the hype spreads much like the alien myths of days gone by, says Lee.

War of Words: Myth-Busting Search Engine Optimization

Mythbusting Search Engine Optimization SEOIn last week’s post about myth-busting social media, I asked what other marketing tactic or channel has attracted as much conjecture, blind advocacy and malarkey.  Only SEO can compare to social media when it comes to the volume of misperceptions and out-dated information posing as “best practices” online.

They say that the only things you can count on in life are death and taxes. Also, that search engines will change.

Google runs over 20,000 experiments per year and at any given time, 50-200 different versions of Google’s core algorithm are helping billions of searchers find what they’re looking for.   Add to that, personalization by location, past search history and the influences of the social graph and you have one of the most complex and fast changing systems ever created.